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Canadians’ Trust Carries Capital

Greg MacEachern

Industries and governments are constantly challenged with finding new ways of capitalizing on common interests. Recent history demonstrates that where there is public confidence (or, “social license” as some have called it), this increases the odds that goals can successfully be accomplished.

While “public confidence” is a common reference in recent discussions around energy and pipelines, it’s important for other sectors to acknowledge the trust challenge isn’t exclusive to any single industry.

Does your industry have the public’s trust to do the right thing for Canadians? Our 2017 CanTrust Index helps shed light on who Canadians trust in 20 different sectors. Our results also reveal that while we await the possibility of pipeline construction, Canadians’ confidence in the nascent marijuana production industry is even shakier.

Trust, public confidence, and the marijuana industry

Even though federal legislation has been introduced, only 13% of Canadians express trust in Canada’s marijuana manufacturing industry – the lowest of all industries surveyed. By contrast, when we asked Canadians about the energy, pipelines and resource sector, 26% overall expressed a favorable view, as did 33% of Western Canadians.

As our CEO Bruce MacLellan discussed, the relationship between Canadians and marijuana producers is “a new marriage with no honeymoon.” Trust in marijuana producers within Québec registers at only 10% – the same level as Canadians over age 50. It is surprising that even younger Canadians, aged 25-49, show only slightly higher confidence at 16%.

Here’s the lesson: Trust comes first, cooperation comes second

When we asked Canadians about their trust in 10 different Canadian and international brands, Bombardier was most trusted in terms of reliability and quality at 56%. Given this, it should come as no surprise that federal ministers appeared enthusiastically with Bombardier executives when they announced a $372.5M interest-free loan in February.

So what does this mean? Canadians’ trust carries capital. When we trust an industry or company, the associated public confidence allows trusted companies and industries to achieve ambitious outcomes. These are lessons the marijuana industry should heed.

With the emergence of a new industry comes opportunity. However, when it comes to establishing and building confidence and trust, the marijuana industry has much work to do.  Only after that is established, can the industry as a whole bring their vision to a successful, and intended result.

For more information on the 2017 CanTrust Index study, and to download the full report, visit